Which smells or herbs will repel cats?

Cats do not understand that they are not always welcome everywhere. They lounge at will on furniture or in the coolness of gardens. If you have a problem with their unwanted presence, avoid using toxic substances to keep them away. Take advantage of their keen sense of smell and repel them naturally. Several scents and herbs are repulsive to cats. Learn to use them to your own advantage to repel curious felines.


Cats don’t like citrus scents, so try grating peels of orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime and sprinkling it outside where the cat is unwelcome. For results in the house, soak cotton balls in essential oils with citrus tones, such as citronella, rosemary, lemon grass or lavender. Place the oil-soaked cotton balls wherever the cat is not supposed to be. This method works for small areas, such as a particular corner or closet. If kitty likes to chew on houseplants, a couple of these cotton balls at the base of the plant will stop this. For larger areas, apply the oil directly to baseboards or door facings. Use single oils, or mix them and enjoy the mingling scents throughout the home. Be sure to try in an inconspicuous area first to avoid damaging finishes.

Herbs and Plants

Gardeners sometimes complain that cats use their garden as a litter box or enjoy munching on the leaves of certain plants. To deter cats from coming into the garden, set out cat-repellent plants. A few to try are rue, citronella, lavender, garlic, rosemary, absinthe, geranium and chives. Plant them among other plants or around the perimeter to keep cats away. These plants are not only pretty to look at; they are good cat repellents, and most have a culinary use as well.

Tea Leaves and Surprises

Cats don’t like tea leaves, so save used tea bags to sprinkle in the area you want cats kept away from. Coffee grounds work well, too. Make a dry mix from five parts flour, three parts dry mustard and two parts cayenne. Sprinkle this mix wherever four paws do not need to tread. Another smell that cats don’t care for is also not so delectable to the human nose, but it works well to repel--if you can stand the smell, put chicken manure in the garden to keep felines at bay. Be careful not to track it back into the house after visiting the garden!

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About the Author

Based in Jonesboro, Ark., Tanna Long began writing in 2007. Her articles regarding pet health and owner responsibility have appeared in "Bully" magazine. Long attended Arkansas State University and Arkansas Northeastern College, where she received an invitation to join Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society.